Pietro Mascagni – Cavalleria Rusticana
Recorded at The Concert Hall of the Slovak Radio, Bratislava, Slovakia from 1-10/04/1992
About the Author:
Pietro Mascagni (December 7, 1863 – August 2, 1945) was an Italian composer most noted for his operas. His 1890 masterpiece, Cavalleria rusticana, caused one of the greatest sensations in opera history and singlehandedly ushered in the Verismo movement in Italian dramatic music. However, though it has been stated that Mascagni, like Leoncavallo, was a “one-opera man” who could never repeat his first success, this is inaccurate. L’amico Fritz and Iris have been popular in Europe since their respective premieres. In fact, Mascagni himself claimed that at one point Iris was performed in Italy more often than Cavalleria (cf. Stivender). It is certainly a better vehicle for a popular lyric soprano.
Mascagni wrote a total of seventeen operas and operetta, several orchestral and vocal works, as well as songs and piano music. He enjoyed immense success during his lifetime, both as a composer and conductor of his own and other people’s music. If he never repeated the international success of Cavalleria, it was probably because Mascagni refused to copy himself. The variety of styles in his operas—the Sicilian passion and warmth of Cavalleria, the exotic flavor of Iris, the idyllic breeze that ventilates the charming L’amico Fritz and Lodoletta, the Gallic chiaroscuro of Isabeau, the steely, Veristic power of Il piccolo Marat, the overripe postromanticism of the lush Parisina—demonstrate a versatility that surpasses even that of Puccini.
About this Opera:
Cavalleria rusticana (Rustic Chivalry) is an opera in one act by Pietro Mascagni to an Italian libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci, adapted from a play written by Giovanni Verga based on his short story. Considered one of the classic verismo operas, it premiered on May 17, 1890 at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. Since 1893, it has often been performed in a so-called Cav/Pag double-bill with Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo. Cavalleria rusticana is also the title of the 1907 opera by the composer Domenico Monleone based on the same source. The composer Stanislao Gastaldon also wrote an opera based on Verga’s story titled Mala Pasqua.
It was the first opera by Mascagni that was a success (although Pinotta, which only premiered in 1932, was written earlier), and remains the best known of his 16 operas. (Apart from Cavalleria rusticana, only Iris and L’amico Fritz have remained in the standard repertory with Isabeau and Il Piccolo Marat on the fringes of the Italian repertoire.) Its success has been phenomenal from its first performance in the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on May 17, 1890 until the present day. At the time of Mascagni’s death in 1945, the opera had been performed more than fourteen thousand times in Italy alone.
In July 1888 the Milanese music publisher Edoardo Sonzogno announced a competition open to all young Italian composers who had not yet had an opera performed on stage. They were invited to submit a one-act opera, of which the three best (selected by a jury of five prominent Italian critics and composers) would be staged in Rome at Sonzogno’s expense. Gemma Bellincioni as Santuzza, and her husband, Roberto Stagno, as Turiddu, in the 1890 premiere of Cavalleria rusticana. Mascagni heard about the competition only two months before the closing date and asked his friend Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti, a poet and professor of literature in the Italian Royal Naval Academy in Livorno, to provide a libretto. Targioni-Tozzetti chose Cavalleria rusticana, a popular short story (and play) by Giovanni Verga as the basis for the opera. He and his colleague Guido Menasci set about composing the libretto, sending it to Mascagni in fragments, sometimes only a few verses at a time on the back of a postcard. The opera was finally submitted on the last day for which entries would be accepted. In all, 73 operas were submitted, and on March 5, 1890, the judges selected the final three: Niccola Spinelli’s Labilia, Vincenzo Ferroni’s Rudello, and Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana. The first performance of Cavalleria rusticana caused a sensation, with Mascagni taking 40 curtain calls on the opening night, and winning the First Prize. That same year, following its sold-out run of performances at the Teatro Costanzi, the opera was produced throughout Italy and in Berlin. It received its London premiere at the Shaftesbury Theatre on October 19, 1891 and its Covent Garden premiere on May 16, 1892. American producers vied with each other (sometimes through the courts) to be the first to present the opera in that country. Cavalleria rusticana finally had its American premiere in Philadelphia at the Grand Opera House on September 9, 1891, followed by Chicago on September 30, 1891. The opera premiered in New York on October 1, 1891 with two rival performances on the same day, an afternoon performance at the Casino, directed by Rudolph Aronson and an evening performance at the Lenox Lyceum directed by Oscar Hammerstein. The opera received its first performance at the Metropolitan Opera on December 30, 1891 in a double bill with a fragment of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice and has since received 652 performances there, the most recent of which was on October 2, 2006 with Salvatore Licitra as Turiddu and Dolora Zajick as Santuzza. In another Sonzogno competition in 1907, Domenico Monleone submitted an opera based on the same story by Verga, and likewise called Cavalleria rusticana. The opera was not successful in the competition but premiered later that year in Amsterdam and went on to a successful tour throughout Europe, ending in Turin. Sonzogno, wishing to protect the lucrative property which Mascagni’s version had become, took legal action and successfully had Monleone’s opera banned from performance in Italy.
01. Prelude (7:58)
02. Introductory Chorus (7:40)
03. Scene and Arrivial of Alfio (4:36)
04. Il cavallo scalpita (3:37)
05. Regina Coeli: Scene and Prayer (7:20)
06. Romance and Scene (5:57)
07. Duetto: Tu qui, Santuzza (3:22)
08. Lolas Song (3:01)
09. Ah! lo vedi (5:43)
10. Duetto-Santuzza and Alfio (5:06)
11. Intermezzo (3:39)
12. Scena Chorus (2:39)
13. Brindisi (2:24)
14. Finale:”A voi tutti, salute!” (4:56)
15. Mamma, quel vino e generoso (5:05)
Stereo, DDD, mp3, 320 kbps, cd ripping, 1 hour 13 minutes. Covers, info & synopsis included.